Statement at 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights -- Outcome Adoption for Malawi
We welcome Malawi’s engagement in the UPR process.
In our report submitted to the review, CIVICUS, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) set out the challenges facing Malawi in realization of fundamental freedoms.
Authorities have routinely restricted freedoms of assembly, association and expression by violently dispersing peaceful protests, arresting human rights defenders and targeting independent media outlets. In the aftermath of the May 2019 elections, human rights defenders were subjected to smear campaigns, judicial persecution and detention by the authorities.
Restrictive provisions in the Penal Code and the Cyber Security Law adopted in 2016 were used to limit freedom of expression and target journalists, bloggers and media houses.
Malawi has so much more to do to protect journalists and human rights defenders. Indeed, During its last cycle Malawi agreed to fully investigate all cases of harassment and intimidation of journalists and human rights defenders with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice and to ensure the protection of human rights defenders. These pledges have not been implemented. For example, in the run-up to the fresh election held in June 2020, there was an increase in acts of violence and intimidation of journalists by officials of the then ruling party, the Police and other government institutions. In August 2020, journalists from the independent Mibawa Television Station, Times Media Group and others, were subjected to threats, harassment and smear campaigns for comments made about the Covid-19 pandemic.
For Malawi to enact meaningful and sustainable human rights progress, it must not only put rule of law and fundamental freedoms at the center of government actions and policies. It must also ensure that there is space for human rights defenders, journalists and all members of civil society to criticize, to speak out, to peacefully assemble. Creating an enabling environment is key to the implementation of all the recommendations Malawi received this cycle. States who made such recommendations now have a responsibility to those on the ground to ensure Malawi’s promises are kept.
Civic space in Malawi is rated as obstructed by the CIVICUS Monitor